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Coaches, pilot remembered after balloon crash

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Laura Jordan wears a red ribbon with her hat decorated with initials of Natalie Lewis and Ginny Doyle before the University of Richmond’s Commencement Ceremony in Richmond, Va. on Sunday, May 11, 2014. Lewis, the director of basketball operations of the University of Richmond women’s basketball team, and Doyle, the team’s associate head coach, died in Friday night’s hot air balloon crash in Caroline County. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daniel Sangjib Min)

Laura Jordan wears a red ribbon with her hat decorated with initials of Natalie Lewis and Ginny Doyle before the University of Richmond’s Commencement Ceremony in Richmond, Va. on Sunday, May 11, 2014. Lewis, the director of basketball operations of the University of Richmond women’s basketball team, and Doyle, the team’s associate head coach, died in Friday night’s hot air balloon crash in Caroline County. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daniel Sangjib Min)

This combination made with photos provided by the University of Richmond shows associate head coach Ginny Doyle, left, and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis. Doyle and Lewis were two of the three people aboard a hot air balloon that drifted into a power line, burst into flames and crashed on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Virginia. Investigators say their remains were found about a mile apart in dense woods. (AP Photo/University of Richmond, Frank Strauss)

This March 6 2014 photo provided by the University of Richmond shows women’s basketball associate head coach Ginny Doyle, top, and head coach Michael Shafer during a game against VCU, in Richmond, Va. Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were two of the three people aboard a hot air balloon that drifted into a power line, burst into flames and crashed on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Virginia. Investigators say their remains were found about a mile apart in dense woods. (AP Photo/University of Richmond, Mitchell Leff)

In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, Natalie Lewis, right, University of Richmond director of basketball operations, looks at her phone as she sits on the bench during a game against Virginia Commonwealth University in the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. A family spokeswoman says Lewis was one of two passengers on a hot air balloon that crashed in Caroline County, Va., on May 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Alexa Welch Edlund)

This Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo shows Ginny Doyle, University of Richmond associate coach, during a game against Virginia Commonwealth University in the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. A university news release says that Doyle and the director of basketball operations were aboard the hot air balloon that crashed after hitting a power line on Friday, May 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Alexa Welch Edlund)

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — One was the constant in Richmond women’s basketball, the beloved assistant coach who had been on staff for 15 seasons, remaining through two coaching changes. The other was hardly out of college, always cheerful and willing to help.

Associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were killed Friday in a fiery hot-air balloon crash along with the pilot, Daniel T. Kirk, who had 20 years of flying experience and was affectionately known as “Capt. Kirk.” The three were mourned Sunday by friends, family and colleagues alike.

“There’s not a person in this business that doesn’t see Ginny as just a light,” Joanne Boyle, now the coach at Virginia, said of Doyle, who was on her staff with the Spiders from 2002-05. “She was just a light for other people, and when you talk about this business and the genuineness and caring about the kids and what’s best for the student-athletes, she epitomized that.”

Doyle, 44, was hired by Bob Foley at Richmond in 1999. When Boyle got her first head coaching job, replacing Foley at Richmond, Doyle “just rose to the top” in an interview and Boyle decided to keep her on staff.

She also tried to get Doyle to come along when she left for California, but with no luck. Instead, Doyle stayed on when Michael Shafer took over, and rose three years ago to associate head coach.

Lewis was a four-year letter-winner in swimming who just completed her second season with the basketball program. Her job required great organization skills as she made travel, hotel and bus arrangements for the team, planned for meals and handled day-to-day basketball business.

In the grind of a season, broadcaster Matt Smith said, she was a shining light, too.

“Sometimes when you work in sports, coaches can be so high strung and so focused on the next game or what’s going on that you feel almost uncomfortable when you go into the office, but her being the first one that you would see, she always had a smile on her face,” Smith said.

Smith met Doyle as a junior in the 1990-91 season, her first with the Spiders after transferring from George Washington. She became a star and later figured in one of the most revered moments in the program’s history. As a senior, she set an NCAA record — for men or women — by making 66 consecutive free throws, an accomplishment that earned her dubious recognition from CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer.

Packer, an 81.9 percent free-throw shooter at Wake Forest, scoffed at the record on air and noted that women use a slightly smaller ball, which in his mind made it less impressive.

Hearing that Packer was going to be in Richmond on another matter, the school invited him to come shoot against Doyle, and about 1,200 fans watched the duel at the Robins Center on Feb. 2, 1992.

It was no contest: Doyle, using a men’s ball, made 20 of 20, with only two of them touching the rim. Packer, to the delight of the crowd, missed eight of his 20 attempts.

Her record has since been broken, but years later her foul shooting, as well as her love of

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